Tomorrow, I will be running the TATA Mumbai Marathon. Having run one half-marathon, I know what I should expect! But for those newbie and amateur to-be-marathoners, here is a breakdown of the feelings and emotions marathoners go through when they run 21.2km:
As you anxiously in anticipation for the race with thousands of others, the stress hormone adrenaline will be produced. This hormone, candidly known to initiate a fight or flight response, is also produced during high levels of stress and anxiety. Naturally, it causes your heart rate to increase, pumping greater amounts of blood to your body.
Your body perspires sparsely in response to your warm up and maybe the scorching weather.
You slowly begin to jog. You will struggle to make your way as hundreds of others swarm around you. All of your physiological support systems – the musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, immune, nervous, and endocrine system – will immediately go into overdrive. Your heart pumps three to four times the amount of blood around your body during a marathon than when you are resting. The blood that is pumped from your heart will be redistributed around your body with more going to your muscles and less to your stomach and abdominal organs such as the liver, kidneys, and spleen.
Your body still hasn’t gotten used to running. It hasn’t found its rhythm, so the first few kilometers, you run awkwardly, attempting to overcome the initial inertia. Your legs will naturally increase the pace as they acclimatize to the run and the environmental conditions.
7 Kilometre Mark
Your body has found its natural rhythm, and you are running at your PB. You solely focus on your legs, listening to your body. You drown out all the noise around you. The people are forgotten. At the same time, the marathoners around you motivate. The act of running in a group motivates you to push yourself. You feel unstoppable. Inconquerable.
Meanwhile, your body is internally making sure you are geared for the run. In order to keep your body temperature between 36°C and 38°C, some blood will be diverted from your muscles to the skin, where sweat glands will produce moisture that evaporates into the atmosphere to cool your body. You will sweat profusely in order to cool your muscles and body.
Over the entire course of the marathon, you will lose three to six liters of sweat. Dehydration will occur if the fluid lost in sweat is not adequately replaced. Depending on the environmental conditions, your body may be forced to choose between sending blood towards your heart and working muscles, or into a system of capillaries underneath the skin that act as a cooling system. Either way, your performance may be negatively affected.
In the absence of proper hydration, heat loss will be impeded, blood volume will decrease and your heart rate may start to drift upwards without any change in effort or breathing. Dehydration may occur more rapidly and the risk of early fatigue and heat-related illnesses may increase, especially if the race day turns out to be unexpectedly warmer than normal or if the humidity level is high.
So, drink lots of water, and stay hydrated!
14 Kilometer Mark
Your mind is playing games with you. It’s telling you that you are tired. You have to make a choice between running and walking. You try to put running out for longer. You consume snacks – dates, oranges, bananas, GU Energy gel – but you still feel your body giving up. You are mentally exhausted, and your phone just isn’t playing the right songs. But, that’s when the people around you motivate you. The marathoners and you have built a bond that words can’t capture. You have vowed to push and motivate each other.
You can do it!
Few more kilometres to go!
Before you were drowning out the encouragements, now you rely on it to put one step ahead of another.
20 Kilometer Mark
You are running full speed! You just want to get it over with, but at the same time, you are sentimental and grateful that this journey is coming to an end. One kilometer seems nothing now!
The cheers are deafening, but you are thrilled! Nothing can stop you now.
After completing the marathon, your immune system may be compromised for several months after running a marathon and leave you susceptible to colds and infections. In some runners, heart function may become impaired for a time after completing the marathon. These changes in heart function tend to occur in recreational runners more often than in trained athletes.
Blood flow to your kidneys will decrease during the marathon and may impair kidney function for up to two weeks. Damage to the kidneys will be compounded by dehydration and a rise in core body temperature
But no matter how you look at it, running a marathon is a huge accomplishment. Crossing the finish line is a surreal feeling that very few ever get to experience. The aches and pains that you experience during and after the race quickly subside and you will be left with a wonderful sense of fulfillment.
2 Hrs After Completing the Marathon
You gleam at your medal with adoration, wondering when your next marathon is.